A European Data Strategy alone is not enough
First of all, I am glad that the European Commission has set out to bring digitisation forward in concrete terms – it is about time they did. So far, Europe only plays a role as a market. The US and increasingly also China produce a frighteningly dominant amount of Companies, innovation and profits.
To raise awareness of the right approach to the issues, to develop digitisation, AI and data is therefore the right thing to do. The Commission has made an important contribution. But what does that mean in concrete terms? Among other things, we are talking about data-driven business models, a common internal market for data, and finally that AI (artificial intelligence) is to play a central role in the very near future of Europeans.
It goes without saying that the Commission will be providing substantial financial resources to implement its Roadmap. As of late, 20 billion euros have been set aside for AI research alone.
Well, there is a plan now – but that alone will not be enough. We have to actually just get out of the world of thought and instead of theory, we have to deal with a greater deal of practical aspects. It helps if we do not immediately use ready-made imagery for the keywords mentioned.
AI is not the smart Thermostat it is being presented as, though it can be part of the bigger concept. We talk and write about AI a lot, but oftentimes we don’t mean the same thing.
My conclusion from many panel discussions and conversations is that in the the term IT is replaced by the abbreviation AI in most cases. However, the examples then almost all refer to normal process control with decisions based on fixed values and firmly defined setpoints and manipulated variables.
Take green electricity in connection with digitisation as an example. Electricity won from renewable sources is only efficient if it is used at the time of its generation, without being used up by being routed through storage solutions, or even fed into the network first. That means that in a solar-powered household you shouldn’t use a washing machine with a wash cycle of two hours during the night, which will deplete the battery. The batteries only have a limited lifetime, which means that the number of charging- and discharging cycles have to be optimized.
Consequently, the better option is to take the local weather data and prognoses generated by AI, and start your washing machine when there is a high probability that there will be sufficient sunlight to cover the electricity demand of the household including the washing machine for the next two hours.
We have to arrive at a point where we can not only find a common strategy, but a common language as well. The possibilities that are coming in the next couple of years are still inconceivable to most. The potential is enormous and will change the way we live substantially – in all aspects of life.
The European Commission has also identified that we are lagging behind China and the US in terms of AI and digitisation. It is now up to us to make the ideas we have a reality. We have developed solutions for better health care, more efficient mobility, resource-efficient living and more, which now has to be implemented.